Duchess Meghan is making her 40th birthday one to remember. To coincide with the special milestone, the Duchess of Sussex has launched a new charitable initiative to support women around the world.
As part of the Archewell Foundation’s ongoing call for Compassion in Action, the new 40×40 initiative encourages people to contribute 40 minutes of mentorship or community service to help women affected by the pandemic reenter the workforce.
Meghan’s decision to focus on this growing problem comes after millions of women around the world have been forced to leave work during the pandemic, including 2 million in the U.S., through job loss or having to focus on schooling children and care for family members.
And she isn’t doing it alone. The duchess has asked 40 activists, athletes, artists, and world leaders to participate, including Adele, Amanda Gorman, Amanda Nguyen, Deepak Chopra, Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, Gloria Steinem, José Andrés, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, Sophie Grégoire Trudeau, and Stella McCartney.
With the help of actress Melissa McCarthy, Meghan announced the project on the Archewell website during a special skit (featuring a cameo from a juggling Prince Harry!). “We should get matching tattoos,” McCarthy suggested to mark her big day, holding up a “besties forever” design. “Y’know, maybe we should save it for when I turn 50,” Meghan laughed.
In an open letter about the idea of giving 40-minutes of service, Meghan wrote, “In reflecting on my 40th birthday and the many things I am grateful for, I’m struck that TIME IS AMONG OUR GREATEST AND MOST ESSENTIAL GIFTS: Time with our loved ones, time doing the things we love, time spent learning, laughing, growing, and the sacred time we have on this earth. Amongst the most valuable gifts of time is also time spent in service to others knowing that it can contribute to incredible change. To that last point, and with my 40th lap around the sun in mind, it made me wonder: what would happen if we all committed 40 minutes to helping someone else or to mentoring someone in need? And then what would happen if we asked our friends to do the same?”
She continued, “I believe mentorship is one way to help women regain confidence and rebuild their economic strength, and for my birthday, I have asked 40 friends, activists, athletes, artists, and world leaders to help kickoff a global effort by contributing 40 MINUTES OF MENTORSHIP to support women re-entering the workforce. With this time, I hope they each help someone advance a professional life on her own terms, and, I hope that they inspire countless others to give 40 minutes of their time as well.”
One of Meghan’s first patronages, the British-based charity Smart Works, has joined three other organizations to partner with the #40×40 initiative. “The Duchess of Sussex has personally dedicated many hours to supporting and mentoring Smart Works’ clients ahead of their job interviews,” the charity, which coaches unemployed women ahead of job interviews, tweeted. “We look forward to playing a small part in bringing this initiative to life for the women we exist to help.” The YWCA, a charity dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting justice, and volunteer action center LA Works have also joined as partners.
Supporters of the duchess have also found other impactful ways to celebrate Meghan’s birthday. Sussex Squad members launched the #Meghans40celebration hashtag to raise money for the Myna Mahila foundation in India, which has spent the past six years working to break taboos surrounding menstrual hygiene in a country where more than 140 million women are using unsanitary menstrual solutions. Over the past month, the grassroots initiative has raised upward of $47,000 to help 850 girls go back into full-time education by providing yearlong supplies of sanitary products.
Despite numerous tabloid reports of lavish birthday parties and five-start party planners, sources close to the duchess tell BAZAAR that Meghan will be celebrating her 40th “privately” at home with family.